Singapore

Employers should plan for talent before they need it

Build, buy, borrow and bridge to fill your company's skills needs

Shortage of talent amid employment uncertainties - that is the dilemma that companies and workers are facing globally.

On the one hand, technology is transforming how work gets done. The upturned work cart creates new roles that require new skills in the digital age, rendering jobs such as administrative assistants redundant, leading to retrenchments.

On the other hand, people who have both the technical and people skills are hard to come by. For example, they may have the technical competence in fields such as e-commerce, digital marketing, financial analysis and cybersecurity but lack the soft skills such as good communication and leadership.

The latest human-capital report by ManpowerGroup shows exactly this conundrum.

Its 2018 Talent Shortage Survey found the shortfall at a 12-year high globally. The survey covered 39,195 employers in 43 countries, in industries spanning manufacturing to trade.

In Singapore, out of 360 employers surveyed, 56 per cent say they cannot find people with the skills they need - a 10-year high.

As in nation building, seen iconically in the annual National Day parades, which requires talent from the public and private sectors and from paid professionals to volunteers, companies need to broaden their methods of securing good people.

They need to build, buy, borrow and bridge.

BUILD YOUR TALENT PIPELINE

Companies need accelerated reskilling programmes with faster and shorter bursts of on-the-job, experiential training.

Invest in your staff members' abilities. Identify future potential and drive a culture of learnability throughout your organisation.

Build your pipeline from the time you hire someone: "I know talent when I see it" - gut instinct alone - will not cut it today. Use new-generation tools like big data scraping, social network analysis and gamification, to map and upskill your existing workforce.

MASTER MARKETERS

An environment of low unemployment and talent shortages can drive up wages and attrition. Candidates are consumers too: to attract and engage the best and brightest, HR practitioners need to be master marketers.

Go out to the industry to attract the talent that you cannot build in-house.

Whether at a labour-force fair or in online job postings, showcase the values you stand for, for instance, a family-friendly culture, flexible work arrangements or ecological purposes. Or be prepared to pay a premium with benefits, wages or other perks.

BORROW TALENT FROM GIG ECONOMY

The pattern of hire-once and stay-for-life is long gone. A 2017 ManpowerGroup study found that 87 per cent of all workers are open to what is known as NextGen work - part-time, contingent, contract, freelance or temporary.

So, borrow from the gig economy. Draw specialist talent from media to education, even nursing. This is as much to complement the existing skills, as to fill gaps for short-term projects and to quickly ramp up the expertise that you do not have.

BRIDGE SKILLS BEFORE THEY BECOME OBSOLETE

Transformation, digitisation and automation have created a skills revolution where new skills emerge as fast as others become obsolete.

Leaders must help employees whose roles no longer fit to bridge - move up or move on - to emerging roles within or without the organisation.

Where it is not possible to place people in new roles internally, employers need to treat people with respect and dignity - help them to transition smoothly, applying their skills to new roles beyond the company.

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, chief talent scientist of ManpowerGroup sums up the broadened thought to talent acquisition and management.

"Even if we don't know what future jobs will look like, we can safely assume that people with the desire and ability to learn, who are smarter, have more people skills and are more hardworking, will be better able to perform those jobs...

"The best formula is to focus on the universal qualities of learnability: ability, likability and drive. Companies that manage to create that culture of curiosity and nurture their workforce's 'hungry mind' can be expected to outperform their less curious rivals in the future."

This article was contributed by Right Management (www.rightmanagement.sg), the global career experts within US-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.

Employment